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Indie Game Development is Now Costing Some Developers Millions of Dollars

IbizaPocholo

NeoGAFs Kent Brockman

By industry terms, Finji is a very young company. The publisher and video game developer relaunched in 2014, headed by Rebekah and Adam Saltsman. In-between publishing hits like Chicory: A Colorful Tale, Night in the Woods, and Wilmot's Warehouse, Finji also produces its own games including Overland and a secret in-development project. Suffice to say, Finji is well-versed in all aspects of game development, which makes it authoritative when it says that indie games are getting expensive to make.

Speaking with IGN, Rebekah Saltsman talked about how indie development is challenging because the industry can change so much in-between game releases. Maintaining a following or fanbase is difficult on its own without indie studios disappearing between game releases. Saltsman says that one of the biggest changes, perhaps the largest challenge indie developers face at the moment, is the rapid increase in development costs. Saltsman explains that, for both developers and publishers, everything has become "wildly expensive."

Five years ago Saltsman says that Finji could make a game for a "million dollars," which she says was crazy to think about even then. Now, however, Saltsman says that they feel good about a project if they can say they can make it for under four million. "It's so much money," she says, especially when that cost has to be thought about in the context of total units sold of the game so that it can make a profit.

While Saltsman doesn't get into any specifics regarding game sales, she is willing to say that the number of indie games that manage to sell over 100,000 copies of a game remains incredibly few. Further, indie games are stuck underneath a "cap" on pricing, as video game players focus on pricing for smaller games of around $10-20. Anything higher would be a risk. Then the platform holder's percentage has to be taken into account, too. Even at its simplest, the math makes clear 100,000 copies sold isn't paying for a $4 million budget -- or even a $2 million.
 

kingfey

Banned
That is to be expected. There are tons of indie studios, and there isn't enough bread for everyone.

Steam alone gets tons of indie games every month, that it's harder to track all those indie games.

Then, you deal with copy pastas. Most indie games are very similar. So you need something to standout.

Among us was a hit, because of the social interaction, and pandemic. 1 year ago, this game was unknown. Lockdown happened, and people wanted to make them busy. Among us had interaction feature, which made the game a hit.
 

SlimeGooGoo

Party Gooper
This article reads more like as a promotion to this Fuji publisher or whatever than an actual statement about the industry.

she is willing to say that the number of indie games that manage to sell over 100,000 copies of a game remains incredibly few
I mean, duh. 80/20 rule, there's too much crap out there.

Further, indie games are stuck underneath a "cap" on pricing, as video game players focus on pricing for smaller games of around $10-20
And this is a good thing. You can't put AAA or AA games on the same category as small indie games.


At the end of the day, those games can be as expensive or as cheap as the developer wants.
Stardew Valley cost almost nothing to the developer other than time and maybe some monthly bills.
 

ParaSeoul

Member
Indie doesn't mean much. The Witcher 3 was technically an indie game.
Indie and Independent evolved into different terms,when I think of indie studios I think of smaller teams full of newcomers to the industry who aren't owned by a publisher. When I think of independent studios,I think of studios who have worked under publishers before to put out a game or assist in the development of other games who aren't owned by a publisher. Doesn't seem fair to compare Kojima Productions or Ninja Theory before MS with a smaller team who have never put out a game before.
 
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Notabueno

Banned
Indie and Independent evolved into different terms,when I think of indie studios I think of smaller teams full of newcomers to the industry who aren't owned by a publisher. When I think of independent studios,I think of studios who have worked under publishers before to put out a game or assist in the development of other games who aren't owned by a publisher. Doesn't seem fair to compare Kojima Productions or Ninja Theory before MS with a smaller team who have never put out a game before.

Right on, even in music Indie and Independant have almost never meant the same thing.
 

Notabueno

Banned
What I like about restricted budgets and indie games is that talent, vision and merit are the main differentiator between games at the exception of some extremely lucky or opportunistic studios (Among Us, Clash of Clan etc...)

With the same 1 millions budget, many studio will just make crap, and will never make more than crap because they're untalented imposters thinking they are game directors and designers, while some will strike as soon as their first project because they are the true deal like Jonathan Blow, Phil Fish, Shouldice, Edmund Mcmullen, Esposito, Capybara etc...

The problem is that many highly talented and meriting indie directors never get to have those teams and budget to pursue the path to making their breakout game, and this is the worst.
 
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